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Joseph LeConte Tribute

from the 1896 Blue and Gold University of California Yearbook

Joseph Le Conte, A.M., M.D., LL.D. Professor of Geology and Natural History, Honorary Professor of Biology in the College of Dentistry, and Lecturer (U.)

Joseph Le Conte!
That name has, for more than a quarter of a century blended with all the pleasant recollections of this college life. Indeed, we can not think of our beloved Alma Mater without instinctively thinking of the great, good, gentle "Professor Joe," in whose name it is thrice blessed.

As an earnest scientist and man of letters he is well known to the world; but it is as head of the department of Geology and Natural History in our university that we know him best. He has made the courses under his supervision so interesting and popular that his lecture hall is always crowded. It is only necessary to hear him lecture once to understand this popularity. He is as genial and unassuming as he is profoundly learned. His lectures, delicately humorous, thorough and exact, are delivered with simple eloquence and in such a form as to be easily comprehended by all his hearers. Through these lectures and his writings he exerts a powerful influence over the student body, but without question that which makes the deepest impress is the shining example of his fearless, upright life.

This life has been a long and busy one, 72 years of study that has made him learned, and experience that has made him wise. Time has been kind to him, for while it has whitened the soft, wavy hair about his temples, and dimmed the sight of his clear, honest blue eyes, it has left his superb faculties unimpaired.

For his mental superiority, for his deserved renown we honor him, but it is for his high sense of humor, for his generous, manly nature, because he is good as well as great, that we love him. It is through these last qualities that he has gained an impregnable position in the hearts of the faculty, alumni and students, every one of whom has a word of affection, an expression of gratitude for our "Professor Joe."

Note: The year Joseph Le Conte first visited Yosemite in 1870 with 10 of his first class of students, there were 40 students enrolled in the entire University of California. There were only 12 members of the Class of 1873, Cal's first graduating class. At the time of this 1896 edition of The Blue and Gold, there were 1,685 students. In 2003, there were 33,076 students attending UC Berkeley.

Source of text and photo: The Blue and Gold , 1896, pp. 126 & 127.

Thank you to Carrie Carlton Helser for the loan of this copy of The Blue and Gold to the LeConte Memorial Lodge.

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